with David Wickers
First the geography – Girona is not just the city but also one of four provinces which make up the region of Catalonia. Touching France and Andorra to the north, Girona province extends from the Pyrenees across to the rugged, northern stretch of the Costa Brava…
Most people think the Costa Brava is all high rise hotels but they’re completely wrong, because when you get to the northern part, to where the landscape is very knobbly and there’s lots of coves and inlets, there’s no room for big hotels, no room for coaches, this is where Spaniards come on holiday and its absolutely beautiful…
Cap de Creus on the northern tip is the most easterly point of Spain and just south of that is Cadaques, an impossibly pretty town with its mass of whitewashed buildings and sparkling bay dotted with colourful fishing boats.
Not surprisingly Cadaques has always been favoured by bohemians and artists including one of the regions most famous sons…
The house behind me in Port Lligat is where Dali lived. Its part of a Salvador Dali triangle in the region, there’s the museum in Figueres full of his works and also the house that belonged to Gala his partner in Pubol
The Cami de Ronda coastal path links all the villages and provides a wonderful route to explore the rugged and varied coastal scenery
Heading inland, you then come to the intriguing and little known area of the Garrotxa – again, perfect walking and cycling territory with a fascinating volcanic area, gorgeous lakes and wonderful medieval hill towns and villages to explore.
And rising from the Garrotxa are the mountains of the Pyrenees and yet more scenic contrasts
Naturally from such fertile land comes great local produce. Catalan cuisine is highly respected globally. Vikki Benito from the Mas de Torrent hotel told me more…
What's the common element of Catalan cooking?
These dishes are really traditional and we use products of the area, products from the sea and mountain products and it’s a mixture of the land and the sea. I think the food in the area is very good. People that come to Catalonia know they are going to eat well even if they got to a small rustic restaurant in the middle of the countryside or to a 5 star hotel, I mean anywhere is really really nice
Well I can certainly testify to that.
The mountains, the Garrotxa and the coast are all within easy striking distance of the capital of the region, Girona…
Girona is a best kept secret really, it’s a historic gem Architecturally superb with a fabulous cathedral and an old Jewish Quarter. You could easily spend a couple of days here exploring the town, looking at all the wonderful pieces of architecture, theres lots of little shops, great places to eat and of course the city itself now is well served by lots of regional scheduled flights from the UK. Its got much more a personal feel than a big city like Barcelona. Its small, its compact you can wander round. I’m amazed it hasn’t been visited by Britains in big numbers
As far as accommodation is concerned you’re really spoilt for choice. In rural areas there are some delightful family run, small hotels… as well as larger, alpine lodges complete with full leisure facilities.
For a luxury short break with easy access to both Girona and the coast my recommendations would be the 5 star Mas de Torrent Hotel and Spa (close to the medieval town of Pals)…
or the 4 star Castell D’Emporda for a stylish, romantic escape...
And back down on the coast are some of my favourite places to stay – wonderful small family run hotels that make the most of their highly prized, sea front locations and offer great service and some fabulous food
This is Callela de Palafrugell, it is absolutely one of my favourite spots and I’ve been here many times and I’m certainly going to come back again
Catalonia has all the ingredients for a classic Spanish short break. It's only a 2 hour (low cost) flight to Girona, a delightful city in itself and within just a short drive you have glorious countryside with easy access to medieval towns and villages, wonderful unspoilt beaches and a dramatic coastline.
The northern part of the Costa Brava is a world apart from the larger resorts further south. Mercifully undeveloped and characterised by pine clad coves and bays with small fishing villages that retain their sense of tradition, here you get a real sense of Spanish culture.
There’s also a great choice of hotels whether you are looking for chic, character properties or luxurious 5 star retreats. The food in this region is also exceptionally good.
For more information on holidays in Girona and Catalonia click here Costa Brava Tourism
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